Friday, 30 January 2015

5 Texas Window Cleaners Injured In Scaffold Collapse

Police tape surrounds a scaffold that three men were on Wednesday afternoon while cleaning windows of the Webb County Courthouse. 


Five fall several feet at Webb County Justice Center (LAREDO, TEXAS) - One person is still in a Laredo hospital after a scaffolding accident at the justice center that injured five people. It happened at about four in the afternoon on Wednesday. We're told four workers were cleaning windows on the third floor, when they fell and hit the pavement injuring a fifth person on the ground. They were all taken to the hospital with injuries ranging from a dislocated shoulder to a broken wrist.

Webb County investigators are trying to find out exactly what happened. "We're trying to get eyewitnesses to see exactly what happened. As you know, when something like this happens there's different stories so we're just trying to find out exactly what happened", said Sanchez. The Webb County judge's office county judge issued a statement this evening saying of the victims "Our thoughts and prayers are with them and their families."

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Men injured in scaffolding incident at courthouse released from hospitals: The five men who were injured Wednesday in a scaffolding incident at the Webb County Courthouse have been discharged from local hospitals. At least one had broken ribs and another a dislocated shoulder. At about 4 p.m. Wednesday, two men fell from a scaffold while cleaning windows on the third floor of the courthouse while another who was on the scaffold clung to the edge of a window. Two men on the ground tried to catch the man who clung to the window, but all ended up getting injured.

Webb County's risk management department is conducting an investigation into the incident. Tano Tijerina, Webb County judge, issued the following statement Thursday: "Yesterday was a defining day for us as a Webb County family. I am truly grateful that all of the men injured are going to fully recover. What could have been cause for chaos was actually an instrumental moment.

"Our Webb County family came together as one; the Constables Office, Sheriff's Office, our Webb County employees and Laredo Police Department rallied together to help our injured employees. Most importantly, there was compassion, and the sense that others came first. This is what our Webb County family is about.

"Thank you to the courthouse staff for their heartfelt response during this unfortunate accident. Thank you to the Laredo Fire and EMS, the Sheriff's Office, Constables Office, Webb County employees, the Laredo Police Department, and those who called in expressing their concerns and well wishes for the injured. "What a great example of working in tandem. I am proud to work for you and with you. We are a family. Our prayers during this time of healing continue to be with our employees."

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Meth' Clean Up

Despite this accreditation, the process of cleaning up a meth site is not all that complicated, chemically speaking. The solution Jennifer and her crew use is a mix of carpet cleaner, degreaser, and dish soap.
The Hard, Grim Work of Cleaning Up Meth Labs in West Virginia: Usually, when Jennifer McQuerrey Rhyne's truck pulls up to a property, it's the first time neighbors have seen any activity there in weeks. Even though the decals on her hulking Tacoma read "www.wvmethcleanup.com"—literally spelling out why she is there—she becomes a magnet for anyone looking for information about the former proprietors of the meth cook sites she cleans for a living. Along with a bevy of shady characters, the business offers a window into the changing drug habits of rural, white America.

A guy in a sweatpants and a hoodie tattered by cigarette burns approaches, mentioning the apartment's former tenant, a woman I'll call Rachel. "She was into some bad stuff," he says. "She was advertising as an escort on a site called BackPages.com and was going all across the county."
Jennifer, 43 years old and about five feet tall with crimson-colored hair and a stud poking out of the upper right side of her lip, quietly absorbs the story. She's used to this. They come to her hoping to gather gossip, ease their worries, or collect debts. "Over her time here, I loaned her over $1,000," the man says. "I heard she was at a rooming house in Bridgeport, but I was wondering if you knew anything."

"No, I don't know anything," Jennifer replies with a polite smile as she checks her phone. "Well, I'd like to at least like to get my air mattress back," he says. "I'm sorry but all this stuff has to go to the dump," Jennifer explains. "There's been a meth contamination here." "Well, that figures," the guy says, wandering off. It's because of encounters like this that Jennifer keeps a Ruger 380 in her truck. The gun usually stays there. Only once, in a run-down "apartment building full of tweakers" in Elkins, did she conceal it beneath her Hazmat-style suit as she cleaned.

It's not an uncommon scene in the Mountain State. Like rural populations all over the US, West Virginians are smoking a shit-ton of meth. Two years ago, 533 meth cook sites were uncovered in the state, though as of the end of November, 2014's numbers were down 40 percent, with just 290 reported busts compared to 500 at the same time a year earlier. Still, the drug is entrenched in this land of arch bridges and rolling hills, where the population density rarely reaches 500 people per square mile. Increasingly, West Virginia meth comes not from the makeshift labs of yore but a crude "shake and bake" process of packing cold medicine, anhydrous ammonia, water, and a reactive metal into a bottle to make a sludgy but effective product. It doesn't take Walter White to do this, and it makes it possible for a meth operation to be cloistered into a closet, a car trunk, or even a backpack.

No matter how large or small, once a cook site is busted, state law dictates it be " remediated."
No matter how large or small, once a cook site is busted, state law dictates it be " remediated" by a licensed company after police determine there is no immediate threat of an explosion. This has meant steady income for Jennifer's company, Affordable Clean Up, LLC, the only one in West Virginia dedicated solely to cleaning meth cook sites. (There are also general industrial cleaning companies that can be contracted for the job.) Since starting in 2012, they've cleaned about 20 sites a year. The average job rakes in $10,000, usually paid by a landlord or mortgage-holding bank.

This apartment in Clarksburg is netting Jennifer only a shade under four grand. She tested surfaces in each room with a kit and only three of them had enough meth residue to meet West Virginia's standard for contamination, 0.1 micrograms per 100 square centimeters. Then she filed paperwork with the state Department of Health and Human Resources and awaited an OK to clean, a process that can take weeks, much to the annoyance of landlords. These owners "did the right thing," Jennifer says. "Most landlords would have just tossed everything and never said a word."

Jennifer is a landlord herself who's been flipping houses for nearly 20 years and has dozens of rental units across the state. It was in that capacity that she got the idea for this side business. She attended a seminar lead by an official from the state Department of Health and Human Service's Clandestine Drug Laboratory Remediation Program. He explained how to spot the signs of a lab and what the landlord is obligated to do when one emerges. It was one offhand comment in particular that stuck with her. "He said, 'When I retire from the state, I'm going into [the decontamination] business,'" Jennifer recalls. "'I'll make a killing!'"

Jennifer had a business administration degree and was always looking for flexible forms of work as her daughter moved through adolescence. So why not clean up old meth labs? She began researching the qualifications needed to tidy up after tweakers and recruited her father, a retired elementary school principal, and Heath, a maintenance man for her rentals. They moved through the trainings and certifications: a $350 class on handling hazardous materials, an $800 multi-day program on the risks of meth sites specifically, an annual $300 methamphetamine remediation license for the company and $50 yearly meth remediation technician certificates for each person on her crew. In West Virginia, you need all this to even walk through the door of a site after a meth bust.

Despite this accreditation, the process of cleaning up a meth site is not all that complicated, chemically speaking. The solution Jennifer and her crew use is a mix of carpet cleaner, degreaser, and dish soap. Like the ingredients for meth itself, all that can be bought at Lowe's. They spray it onto every surface. "Then, we scrub the shit out of it," Jennifer says. It usually takes three sprays and scrubs before the residue is below the state standard.

That standard might be overly cautious. In 2009, the federal Environmental Protection Agency concluded that 1.5 µg/100 cm²—15 times the amount of meth residue allowed by West Virginia—was the threshold for health hazard and set that as its own recommended standard. But that's only a suggestion, and the laws of meth contamination are a patchwork from state to state. Minnesota, Kansas, Virginia, California, and other states use the EPA's recommendation. Some—like Nebraska, Washington, Alaska, and West Virginia—go by the harsh 0.1 µg/100 cm² standard, and several set it somewhere between.

Just like the cleaning, the disposal of meth-contaminated stuff is surprisingly simple, albeit hampered by bureaucracy. Jennifer deposits everything she takes from a site at a municipal landfill, where it is buried, but first she has to photograph each item and file an accompanying form, all of which goes to the state.
All of these measurements are lighter than the weight of a single grain of rice, but between them is a difference of tens of thousands of dollars if a cook site is found on any given property. Take for instance, an elderly woman whose home Jennifer cleaned. She lived with an adult grandson who cooked and smoked meth. By West Virginia's 0.1 µg/100 cm² standard, the whole house was contaminated. In addition to the hefty cost of the cleaning, everything she owned had to go to the dump. "She lost everything, all her belongings she collected her entire life," Jennifer remembers. "I would petition the state to raise the level. I don't even care if I lose business. I've seen too many people pointlessly lose everything."

Anthony Turner is director of the West Virginia Department of Health's Clandestine Drug Laboratory Remediation Program. He's sympathetic to property owners, but tells me, "I'd rather err on the side of caution when it comes to public health. These are residential units where children might live."

Just like the cleaning, the disposal of meth-contaminated stuff is surprisingly simple, albeit hampered by bureaucracy. Jennifer deposits everything she takes from a site at a municipal landfill, where it is buried, but first she has to photograph each item and file an accompanying form, all of which goes to the state. After conferring with a few sanitation workers sitting in a trailer, she drives the truck to a set of metal dumpsters full of tires, stoves, bedframes, and five-gallon buckets. The place smells like gasoline and burned plastic. Jennifer puts on gloves, photographs each item, and tosses it into a dumpster.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Fact: People Respect Window Cleaners More Than Politicians

In a letter which accompanies the posters, the party asks their “dearly beloved Anarchist friends” to take in to consideration their window cleaner Kevin, who is not a Ukip member. Click to enlarge.
Ukip Really Want You To Chuck Eggs At This Nigel Farage Poster: Ukip officials have hatched a plan to put any yolkers off chucking eggs at their offices in Cardiff South and Penarth, by scrambling to put up a cracking poster of their leader Nigel Farage for them to shell instead.

Farage has a starring role on the Ukip poster, alongside local candidate John Rees-Evans, who both have targets on their faces, with would-be egg-chuckers jokingly given points for a direct hit. The posters have been so successful that no more egg attacks have happened, leaving Ukip officials feeling sunny side up.

In an attached note, the party asks their “dearly beloved Anarchist friends” to remember that any eggs thrown will mean more work for their window cleaner Kevin, who is not a Ukip member.

The letter reads:

“To our dearly beloved Anarchist friends,
With respect to the interests and livelihood of our non-member window cleaner, Kevin, we kindly ask that you please consider confining your egg-throwing to one of the targets supplied. Our volunteers will then undertake to clean the physical expressions of your opposition to our presence and our views, ourselves.
With sincere thanks,
Team Ukip Cardiff South and Penarth"

Ukip’s prospective parliamentary candidate for Caerphilly, Sam Gould, told the Guardian: “You’ve got to take the fun out of it. The only way we can show we’re different is to show we’re down to earth and can laugh at ourselves.”

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Save Your Skin: Dermatitis An Itchy Fact Of Life

The second type, contact dermatitis, results from exposure to a skin irritant like detergent.
Save your skin: Dermatitis an itchy fact of life in Southern Colorado - Red, swollen and itchy is unpleasant skin to be in. Inflammation of the skin, or dermatitis, can have many causes and occur in many forms. It can make life miserable but isn’t contagious and usually isn’t life-threatening. It’s a scourge that plagues dry-skinned people — which is just about everybody at this time of year in arid Southern Colorado.

Dermatitis occurs in two basic types, says Dr. Sharon Kessler, a Pueblo dermatologist. There’s atopic, from the Greek for “hypersensitivity,” and there’s contact. “Atopic dermatitis is also called eczema; it’s exactly the same disease,” Kessler says. “It tends to be genetic, tends to cluster in families. There are three genes for it, all closely linked on the same chromosome.” People with atopic dermatitis often have asthma or hay fever as well. While there’s a genetic predisposition, exposure to environmental factors such as dryness, dust and pets, especially cats, can trigger atopic dermatitis.

The second type, contact dermatitis, results from exposure to a skin irritant like detergent or an allergen like poison ivy. Again, it’s not totally clear-cut, Kessler says, as some people may be genetically predetermined to be sensitive to nickel, for example, and break out in a rash if they wear nickel-containing jewellery.

Harsh climate a factor

Dr. Michael Babcock, a dermatologist who practices both in Pueblo and Colorado Springs, says he sees more people with atopic and dry skin dermatitis than contact dermatitis. “A lot of people who relocate here from elsewhere, from the South or the coasts, come in with a weird rash that’s a form of eczema. They’ve been susceptible to it all along but it didn’t appear until they were here” in Colorado’s harsh climate.

For people with mild eczema, some education and over-the-counter products often are the answer, he says. More severe cases may require medication. Babcock says he likes to joke with patients that he has a cure for their dermatitis: a first-class trip to Hawaii once a month.

Skin is a good barrier. If intact, it keeps out toxic agents, but if it’s broken, “all sorts of things can be a problem.”
Skin as barrier

Kessler says the three main offenders in contact dermatitis are grease-cutting dish detergent, furniture polish with lemon oil and window cleaner with ammonia.

“I see a lot of hand dermatitis, usually in women and particularly in winter before Christmas when they’ve been cleaning house like crazy,” Kessler says. “I always ask them if they’re using (brand name) detergent or any lemon-scented products or ones with ammonia. These change the environment so much it allows the skin to crack.”

Skin is a good barrier. If intact, it keeps out toxic agents, but if it’s broken, “all sorts of things can be a problem,” she says.

So what’s a person to do? Keep the skin from getting excessively dry. Kessler advises drinking lots of water; taking cooler showers — even though hot water may feel soothing to irritated skin; minimizing the use of soap — “Water is the universal solvent”; and applying a good-quality moisturizer right after bath or shower while the skin is still well-hydrated. She recommends using a thick cream rather than a thin lotion and choosing a product that contains alpha hydroxy acids.

Preservatives a problem

Babcock says people have become more aware that chemicals in products can cause skin problems, but they always think it’s the fragrance or because they changed products. “The most common cause of contact dermatitis is preservatives — parabens and formaldehyde derivatives,” he says. “Fragrance is the next most common.”

Antibiotic ointments also can cause problems. “One of the things everyone says is, ‘I’ve used X, Y or Z product forever.’ What you have to remember is a company can change its product ingredients at any time, and a person can develop sensitivity over time. You have to have exposure in order to have sensitivity.”

Dermatitis data

Atopic dermatitis or eczema is a chronic skin disease that’s most common in babies and children but can occur at any age. This red, itchy rash occurs on the face, scalp, hands and feet in infants, and where the skin flexes inside the elbows or behind the knees in older people. Skin changes can include blisters that ooze and crust, dry skin all over, raw skin from scratching, and leathery areas that occur after long-term irritation and scratching. Atopic dermatitis can be caused by both genetic and environmental factors. It can get worse, improve and then flare up again.

Contact dermatitis is caused by exposure to an irritant or an allergen and it causes red, sore or inflamed skin. Itching — sometimes severe — is common and a rash can occur; the rash may have bumps that become blisters. It often shows up on the hands, although hair products, cosmetics and perfumes can lead to reactions on the face, head and neck. Skin may become inflamed with long-term exposure to an irritant.

Monday, 26 January 2015

Window Cleaning News

Cleaners wiping the window of a building in Kuala Lumpur. Despite an increase in the tax for foreign workers was good for the country, employers are still cautious over Putrajaya’s move to review the tax. 
The Malaysian Employers Federation today reacted cautiously to Putrajaya's move to review the levy on foreign workers as they waited further details to the sketchy announcement. MEF executive director Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan said higher levies on foreign workers would mean an increase in government revenue. "If Putrajaya increases the levy on foreign workers, it would mean more revenue and less money being remitted by foreign workers." But, Shamsuddin said if the levy for foreign workers had to be paid by their employers, then it would lead to higher overheads.
Foreign workers were responsible for paying the levy, not their employers, he added. "Remittances by foreign workers back to their source country is currently about RM50 billion annually," he said.
Bank Negara previously estimated that foreign workers remitted about RM30 billion annually. But, Shamsuddin said foreign workers also had other methods of sending money back home without resorting to banks and financial institutions.

Terry Dugdale, who is concerned over the matter of exploding double-glazed windows in his housing block
Exploding window problem: A Poole pensioner has prompted an investigation after discovering six windows in his warden assisted block shattered spontaneously. Terry Dugdale, 65, of Simmonds Close in Oakdale, was shocked to find the inner pane of glass of his bathroom window smashed – while the outer one was intact. He was advised by Poole Housing Partnership, which manages the block, to claim on his insurance. But baffled as to how it had happened, he investigated further.
The retired sales rep, who has lived in the flats for three years, discovered that five of his neighbours had also had the exact same “exploding window” problem – including one elderly resident who was in the bathroom at the time it happened.
After researching on the internet he discovered that it was a known phenomenon, which can occur in colder weather as a result of changes in pressure – most frequently in late December and January. After presenting his evidence to PHP they have now agreed to pay for repairs – and are looking into the issue. Mr Dugdale told the Echo: “You’ve got six windows here – do they think six people are suddenly going around and smashing their windows? “The thing I can’t understand is why they didn’t investigate what was happening in the first place. “I think they should seriously think about replacing all the double glazing in these units which are over 20 years old.
“One of my neighbours was actually in the bathroom when it happened and it scared her to death. “She could have been caught by the glass.” Matt Wilkin, communications officer at PHP Ltd said: “We were alerted to several cases of cracked windows at Simmonds Close over the Christmas period.
“As these windows were at the end of their life, we’ve arranged for new argon-filled units to be fitted which should last for a further 25 years. “Investigations are now underway to identify the cause of the cracked windows and we are working with residents to minimise the inconvenience while the repairs are ongoing.”

Mark's Cleaning Service Inc. celebrates 30 years in business.
Mark's Cleaning Service Inc. - It's Your Business: Mark & Bonnie Skoda. Number of employees: 110
Years in business: 30
Tell us what your business does: Carpet cleaning, oriental area rug cleaning, ceramic tile and grout cleaning, upholstery, air duct cleaning, window cleaning, maid service and pet urine and feces removal and odor control.
Where did you get the idea for your business? I was working for a local carpet and janitorial company when the owner offered to sell me a van and carpet cleaning machine.
What makes your business unique? Mark's Cleaning is a leader in the cleaning industry. We work hard to keep up with the newest cleaning equipment and solutions. By using the best products and newest equipment, we do the job right the first time. We promise to treat our customers as we would want to be treated.
How do you see current economic conditions affecting your business? Business is great! I believe so much in "a positive state of mind brings positive results." We work hard as a team to take care of our clients and our staff. Everyday brings challenges. Being in business is problem solving -- that's what we do.
What is the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome thus far? Over the last 30 years we've seen many obstacles. I suppose two of the biggest would have to be 9/11 and the 2008 economic crises. For both we kept a positive mindset. Actually one of our best years turned out to be 2008! We have great clients and great staff!
What are your plans for near-future growth (hiring, building expansion, etc.)?  Our plans are to continue growing and expanding in Summit and Cuyahoga counties. We've purchase a 5,000 square foot facility and adjoining property, and are currently putting finishing touches on our in-house oriental rug cleaning plant. We also plan to continue growing in water damage restoration, window cleaning, maid service, carpet cleaning, duct cleaning, janitorial and hard surface floor care.

Window Cleaner who borrowed €1.4m given three months to save home: A Dublin couple have been given three months by a judge to save their family home. Anthony and Miriam Freeman, of Villa Park Gardens, Navan Road, Dublin, are fighting in the Circuit Civil Court to prevent Ulster Bank Ireland repossessing their family home on a disputed arrears debt of €169,000. Last May, the High Court dismissed claims by the couple, who who borrowed some €1.4m to refinance property investments, that their lender did not validly appoint a receiver over their assets when they went into arrears. They are appealing the case to the Supreme Court.
Judge Jacqueline Linnane told the Freemans on Friday that the family home situation will be decided on April 23rd next and she directed that all necessary papers be exchanged between the parties by mid-March. Ms Freeman, who represented herself and her husband in court, said her health had deteriorated and she had been unable to complete an application for legal aid. She said they disputed the claimed debt of €169,000 on the December 2003 mortgage of €460,000 on their home. She claimed the bank had mismanaged the couple’s mortgage account and had overcharged them on interest. Counsel for the bank said she was repeating issues made in a High Court commercial investment case and all of which had been rejected by Mr Justice Brian McGovern last May.
On Friday, Ms Freeman said she accepted there was a debt to be paid to Ulster Bank Ireland but did not accept the amount claimed. There was a lot more detail to be gone into and the Supreme Court appeal against Judge McGovern’s decision was being strenuously pursued in relation to their six investment properties.
Mr Justice McGovern stated in his judgment that the couple between 1996 and 2006 had bought six houses in Dublin at Huntstown Drive, Huntsdown Wood and Willowood, Blanchardstown, and at Ventry Drive and Drumcliffe Drive, Cabra West and Dunsink Green, Finglas. He said this had been financed by First Active Building Society and later re-mortgaged with Bank of Scotland for €1,406,000. When the First Active debt had been paid the couple had been left with a surplus in excess of €546,000 which they had spent on themselves over a period of 16 months.
Mr Justice McGovern said the evidence clearly showed that the plaintiffs went on a spending spree with the surplus, both buying expensive motor vehicles and had gone on at least one holiday to the United States, drawing down just under $60,000 while there. He said Miriam Freeman had been unable to explain why so many substantial cash withdrawals were made and why they were not applied towards the investment property business. The judge said both Freemans had furnished misleading information to Bank of Scotland at the time they applied for the loans, grossly inflating the net profit of Mr Freeman’s window cleaning business which gave them only a modest income.
Mr Justice McGovern, who threw out all of the issues raised by the Freemans in their High Court action against the bank and its receiver, said the couple had sought to invalidate the appointment of the receiver over the sale of their properties. He said that at a time when they owed Bank of Scotland over €1.4 million they had taken no steps to reduce the principal sum due and owing to the bank from the excess of €546,000 but had spent it on themselves.

Popular window cleaner John 'Sneck' Duncan.
Big turnout for funeral of popular window cleaner: There was a big turnout at Kirkcaldy crematorium for the funeral of popular Cupar window clearer John (Sneck) Duncan. Born, raised and educated in Cupar, where he spent his entire 81 years, Sneck worked in a butcher’s shop in the town after leaving Bell Baxter High School.
Before starting out on his own as a window cleaner 35 years ago, he was a steel erector and crane driver with local engineers Houston’s, as well as a labourer with building companies. He was still working until last year, keeping all his clients in the Cupar area up to date with the latest local news and gossip. An all-round handyman, Sneck would readily offer his services to anyone in need.
During his time at Adamson Hospice – where he passed away – he kept fellow patients and staff entertained with his wise-cracking and constant stream of jokes. A keen walker in the glens with his wife, Annie, Sneck is survived by his family, grandchildren and great-grandson.

A 72-year-old man from Brinsley has successfully completed an epic 98-mile walk which took him from Glasgow to Fort William in just six days. Bill Pykett of Kings Drive, Brinsley, has completed many cycling and walking expeditions for charity in his time and embarked on this trek known as The West Highland Way in aid of The Dogs Trst.
The retired carpet and window cleaner was joined by his partner Heather Collinge who drove their motorhome as a support vehicle, and his four-year-old rescue German Shepherd, Abi, who walked with him all the way. Bill explained that he had previously completed Lands End to John O’Groats and Coast to Coast by bike, but as the West Highland Way is the biggest official walk in Scotland, it was another challenge he was keen to do.
He said: “I like walking for start and I had seen something on the TV about the expedition which made me want to do it. “There was some stunning scenery along the way - Rannoch Moor was really special because of how bleak and wild it was. “After Glasgow which was busy with local walkers I hardly saw a sole, which I liked.”
The grandfather-of-three told the Advertiser that the highlight of the whole expedition was the night before Rannoch Moor as the stags were roaring around their motorhome all night. However, it was his dog Abi that got him through the hardest part of the journey - Devils Staircase - as she pulled him up the hill. Bill added: “She loved the whole walk - I think she would happily do it over and over and she never tired.” This year Bill will be taking on The Great Glenway from Fort William to Inverness, and he and Heather are also determined to travel to the Artic Circle in the summer. Donations go to The Dogs Trust.

The middle class that President Obama identified in his State of the Union speech last week as the foundation of the American economy has been shrinking for almost half a century. In the late 1960s, more than half of the households in the United States were squarely in the middle, earning, in today’s dollars, $35,000 to $100,000 a year. Few people noticed or cared as the size of that group began to fall, because the shift was primarily caused by more Americans climbing the economic ladder into upper-income brackets.
But since 2000, the middle-class share of households has continued to narrow, the main reason being that more people have fallen to the bottom. At the same time, fewer of those in this group fit the traditional image of a married couple with children at home, a gap increasingly filled by the elderly.
“In the Great Recession, we lost a lot of middle-income jobs and we gained a lot of low-paying jobs,” said Michael R. Strain, resident scholar at the right-of-center American Enterprise Institute. “That’s a slower-burning thing, but it increased in ferocity during the recession, and people are feeling it.”
For more than two decades, John D’Amanda, 54, earned about $30,000 a year running a window-washing service in Oakland, Calif. He had a car and an apartment. Then, in 2009, the calls stopped coming in. His customers no longer had the luxury of paying for someone to wash their windows.
Mr. D’Amanda got a job at a McDonald’s, where he has worked ever since, now earning 25 cents above the state’s new minimum wage of $9. He pays $350 a month in rent to share a small bedroom with a roommate. “I’m barely able to afford that,” he said.

'Robust' parking enforcement in Barnstaple is a concern for councillors: Speaking at a meeting of North Devon Council’s overview and scrutiny committee last week, Mr Tucker said: “It concerns me the robust way in which Devon County Council is going about its business. “It is very sad when we have operated the system for a number of years and got on with traders and now they are giving tickets because they are unloading for five minutes. “When you see good businesses getting four or five tickets something is wrong somewhere.”
The Journal has also been contacted by a man who claims the situation has been getting worse recently and that he has received four parking fines while stopped in Barnstaple High Street. Will James, of H2O Cleaning Services, said there was a group of around 50 workers who were gearing up to sign a petition on the issue. Will said the 10-minute window given by traffic wardens for commercial vehicles stopping in the High Street was not enough. “I am self-employed and have been working in the High Street for 14 years,” he said. “Only now is it beginning to become a problem. Any time before 10am you can park there. But you have only got 10 minutes.” Will said a common problem was people stopping off in the High Street just to go and get a coffee. “You never see them getting tickets,” he said. “We are here trying to earn an honest living, but the people coming in doing their coffee rounds aren’t penalised at all.”

LOHS grad to appear on 'Shark Tank'
A summer business called “Happy Windows” was the first adventure into entrepreneurship for Morgan Hill native Wesley LaPorte, who employed his cousin as they went door-to-door to solicit their window washing services to local homeowners. “Growing up, I worked for myself washing windows, so I have been entrepreneurial since I was young,” said the 2004 Live Oak High School alumnus who went on to earn a Pre-Med degree in Exercise Science from Brigham Young University. But upon graduation in 2012, LaPorte put his medical school plans on hold because of a business venture he conjured up with that same cousin, Dan Barnes, who used to wash windows back in the day.
The business partners are no longer window-washing though, and the two BYU graduates will appear on the Jan. 30 episode of the ABC show Shark Tank, where they will pitch their PhoneSoap product to the panel of the millionaire investors, including Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and Fubu founder Daymond John. “I decided that this was an opportunity now,” said LaPorte, the 29-year-old Chief Executive Officer and founder of his Provo, Utah-based company that manufactures a cell phone cleaning device. “If I want to go to medical school in the future, I still can. But for now, this is what I’m doing full time.”
The idea for PhoneSoap came in 2012 when the two cousins were bouncing ideas off one another for an annual business plan competition held at BYU. LaPorte said he was doing cancer research at the university and was using large ultraviolet (UV) lights to sanitize surfaces where they would perform experiments. “I knew it was effective in killing bacteria,” said Barnes, who didn’t realize a different and marketable use for the same UV light until Barnes read an article that the average person’s cell phone is dirtier than the handle on a public toilet. The light bulb went off and they immediately began doing more research on the bacteria that builds up on cell phones.

Window Cleaners shut those gates! A Burton family are appealing for help in finding their missing border terrier puppy. The 15-month-old female, called Ginny, went missing at approximately 4.30pm on Friday. Her owner Hannah Denton says that she believes she was taken by somebody after she managed to escape from the garden of the family home. She said: "At about 4.15pm I let Ginny out the back door into our enclosed garden to do her business. "I then went upstairs and came back down 10 minutes later to let her back in but she wasn’t there. The window cleaner had been and left the gate open without us knowing.
"We live on Bridgewater Road and I ran to the park where she goes for her walks to see if she was there but we couldn’t find her anywhere. "One of the people that live near us contacted us through Facebook, he was in his car at 4.30pm and saw Ginny run across the road and turned round in the car to get her but an old red Ford Fiesta had got to her first, at the flats next to Shobnall Street, and somebody put her in the car. "We are desperate to get her home safe and are offering a reward." Ginny has been spayed and has a red grizzle with a dark face. Anyone with information is asked to call Hannah on 07581 624934 or 07916 338521.

An animal rescue worker in south Norfolk caring for a “suffering” cat thrown from a car in Diss earlier this month is calling for help to track down those responsible. The one-year-old cat was reportedly seen being tossed out of a car somewhere in Diss on the morning of Thursday, January 8 and was later found with a broken front leg.
The feline, a fluffy ginger female which has been named Loreli, was taken to Cherry Tree Vets in Roydon Road. An appeal was then launched on social media to ask for help for the ongoing care of the injured cat. Bungay-based centre Blossoms Rescue responded by taking Loreli into its care and meeting the £999 veterinary bill for the operation to repair the cat’s leg with the insertion of metal pins, which was carried out last week at Chapelfield Vets in Long Stratton.
She urged any witnesses of the incident or anybody who could identify the cat to come forward and share whatever information they may have. In particular, she was keen to hear from the woman who initially reported what had happened - only referred to as the wife of a local window cleaner - to obtain a more detailed account of the time and place and a description of the car.

An Arbroath window cleaner who racially abused an unhappy customer has been fined £200. John Connor, 48, of Campbell Crescent, appeared before Sheriff Pino Di Emidio at Forfar. He admitted that on December 20 at Arbroath High Street he acted in a racially aggravated manner towards a man and shouted racist remarks. Depute fiscal Jill Drummond said Connor was a window cleaner and an arrangement was made to take on a contract at a shop in the High Street. An agreement was reached that Connor would be paid £25 every time the windows were cleaned. After they were cleaned for the first time, the owner said he was not happy with the standard of work and only paid £15.
Several discussions took place between both men over the following days. At 10am on the day of the incident, Connor was cleaning windows nearby when the shop owner parked his vehicle on the High Street. Connor said: “No wonder you drive a nice car.” The owner was annoyed at the remark. He told Connor if he had done his job properly he would have been paid in full. Connor told him to go back to his country and uttered a racist remark. The man replied: “You’ll not get away with being racist,” and called police.

Beware of conman window-cleaner warn Plymstock police: Beware of conman window-cleaner warn Plymstock police (Plymouth): PCSO Elaine Wilson of Plymstock police neighbourhood team said the suspect had been knocking on doors, requesting payment for windows cleaned. She said: “People have handed over money, only to be contacted by their real window-cleaners asking for their dues. “He appears to just be chancing houses, so we are requesting residents please be mindful of this and only hand over money to the person they know to be doing work for them.” The man is described as white, unshaven, possibly wearing a quilted jacket and blue knitted hat. He does not appear to have a vehicle. Anyone with information about the man, or anyone who has spotted him in their area, contact police on 101 quoting crime reference number CR/003199/15.

A window cleaner committed benefit fraud because he didn’t want to dip into his savings: Stephen Crabtree committed benefit fraud even though he had than £100,000 savingsStephen Crabtree, of Fairview Avenue in Batley, admitted dishonestly failing to disclose to the Department for Work and Pensions full details of his capital. Prosecutor Andy Wills said that the 50-year-old’s application was fraudulent from the outset. He told Kirklees magistrates: “He made an application to receive income- based Jobseeker’s Allowance and received this for 16 months. “The application said that he was unemployed and had no capital or savings.” The court heard that the department then became aware that Crabtree had savings of over £118,000.
Mr Wills added: “This was well over the limit of savings than can be held by any party when trying to make a claim for benefit. “Had this been known by the department his application would have been refused.” Crabtree, a window cleaner for 29 years before falling off his ladder and breaking his collarbone, said that his savings were meant for his retirement. Mr Wills said: “He said he wanted the benefit to live with so that he didn’t have to dip into his savings.” Crabtree was overpaid almost £5,000 which he said has now been repaid. He said that friends had urged him to sign on and other people do what he did. Magistrates sentenced him to a six-week curfew between 7pm and 7am. Crabtree must also pay £85 costs and £60 victim surcharge.

State time for man who accidentally shot and wounded 8-year-old boy (WEST CHESTER): The North Coventry man who fired a gunshot that wounded an 8-year-old boy who was riding his bicycle in the man’s neighborhood was sentenced to a state prison term Thursday for his behavior, which the judge in the case said amounted to unwarranted recklessness. Wayne Snowden, who fired the shot from the porch of his home on West Main Street, just south of Pottstown, during an angry tirade against another man, was given back-to-back terms of nine to 18 months in prison on charges of recklessly endangering another person and simple assault.
Snowden, 56, the owner of a window washing business who had no history of violent crime, shook his head in disbelief as sheriff deputies put handcuffs on him and led him from the courtroom. Family members who attended the 90-minute sentencing hearing cursed as they left Wheatcraft’s courtroom.
The defendant had apologized for the shooting, telling Wheatcraft he had no thought of ever harming he young boy and that he sympathized with the family over all they had gone through in the wake of the shooting. “I thank God it was not a worse situation,” he said. “I pray one day A.J. will be able to enjoy himself again.”

A window cleaner was almost five times over the drink drive limit when he was stopped by police. Stephen Tordoff, 41, was driving along Dickson Road, Blackpool, at 1.30pm when an officer halted his van. Blackpool Magistrates heard that Tordoff had left home at about 10.30am that day. He had drunk the contents of a bottle of vodka the night before. Tordoff, of Waterhead Crescent, Norbreck, pleaded guilty to drink driving.
Police had been tipped off that he was at the wheel of his van while over the limit and when he was breathalysed he had 160 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath – 35 is the limit. Alison Quanbrough, prosecuting, said: “The police had received intelligence that Tordoff was a drink driver.
“This is a very high reading indeed.” Martin Hillson, defending, said: “There were no aggravating factors involved such as speeding or an accident and my client co-operated fully with the police when stopped. “Mr Tordoff has worked all his life and has set up a window cleaning business with 350 clients.” Magistrates gave Tordoff a 17 week jail sentence, suspended for two years. He was also banned from the road for three years and ordered to undergo two years supervision. He was also ordered to pay £85 costs.

And finally...

“The problem was that they tried to fix it in half an hour and it should have taken them days.”
Tutankhamun's beard glued back on, say Egyptian museum conservators: Beard on burial mask of pharaoh was stuck on with epoxy after it was knocked during cleaning, say staff at Cairo museum: Was he murdered? Was he the product of incest? Ever since his tomb was discovered in 1922, Tutankhamun has always been a man of mystery. But now the pharaoh is the subject of yet another whodunnit – and this time the mystery is a very modern one. Did bungling curators snap off Tut’s beard last year, and if so, was it stuck back on with the wrong kind of glue?
These are the allegations levelled this week at the Egyptian Museum, the gloomy, underfunded palace in central Cairo where Tutankhamun’s bling is housed, along with thousands of other ancient treasures. Employees claim the beard was dislodged in late 2014, during routine maintenance of the showcase in which Tut’s mask is kept. “What happened is that one night they wanted to fix the lighting in the showcase, and when they did that they held the mask in the wrong way and broke the beard,” alleges one museum official, who asked not to be named for fear of being fired. “But they tried to fix it overnight with the wrong material, but it wasn’t fixed in the right way so the next day, very early, they tried to fix it again. “The problem was that they tried to fix it in half an hour and it should have taken them days.”

A man who allegedly made a habit of stealing women’s underwear from washing lines has been on the receiving end of some ironic mob justice.
Underwear thief forced to walk around the block wearing the bras he stole: A man who allegedly made a habit of stealing women’s underwear from washing lines has been on the receiving end of some ironic mob justice. After Chan Chun Chee was caught red handed by the women whose underwear had gone missing, they forced him to wear one of the pilfered bras and made him walk around the block in a classic example of public shaming.
Residents of the block of flats in Singapore first became aware of the kinky thief when items of clothing being left out to dry started going missing, sometimes even from inside their apartments. Local man Teo Goh, 56, said: ‘We realised he was targeting windows where he knew women lived and knew were open, so we decided to teach him a lesson and publicly humiliate him.’
They sprung a trap by getting one of the women in the block to leave some underwear in plain sight near an open window. The group then waited for the thief to make his move, before pouncing on him.
After ‘frog marching’ the culprit around the block in his new outfit and forcing him to promise never to steal from them again, the vigilante group called the police to have him arrested. A police spokesman said: ‘We don’t condone vigilante activity but in this case it seems to have turned out OK.’ Chee now faces three years jail for breaking and entry and theft (plus these embarrassing photos will probably haunt him forever).

Friday, 23 January 2015

Making Reverse Osmosis Membranes

Su Lv shows off a reverse osmosis membrane cartridge.
Making ultra-thin materials with holes the size of water molecules: While visiting GE's China Technology Center, we got to take a look at reverse osmosis membranes. Reverse osmosis is the most energy-efficient means of removing dissolved substances from water. It's what's used commercially for desalination, the process of producing drinking water from seawater.

The term "membrane" is typically used to mean a thin sheet of some material (in fact, the word "sheet" appears in the definition of the term). But for some of the things GE is using it for, the membranes were thin yet robust tubes, each one capable of supporting the weight of a bowling ball. Despite that toughness, features on the tubes are so fine that they can allow water molecules to pass through but reject many things that are roughly the same size, such as the salt ions found in seawater.

This all raises an obvious question: how do you actually produce anything like that? We decided to look into the process of making reverse osmosis membranes. It quickly became clear that the toughness of the membranes is a key feature. Water purification systems need to survive repeated cleaning cycles and go right back to use. We talked to Sijing Wang in Shanghai, who said that some membranes in the systems GE makes can be used for up to eight years.

That toughness, however, is provided by polymers that are microporous, in that they have features a thousand times larger than what is needed for reverse osmosis. These would do little to help remove salts from water, but they provide structural support for membranes that can. The large pores also ensure that water can easily flow through the system once it has passed through the membrane that acts as a filter.

 A test setup that allows Sijing Wang to see how membranes (held in the rectangular cases, lower right) respond to different types of waste material.
The interactions between that membrane and the water it's purifying help dictate the efficiency of the system. Since the membrane doesn't interact well with water, more water will flow through it when it's thinner. For reverse osmosis membranes, this layer is kept to a micrometer or less in thickness. The pores within it have to be kept small so that the ions of the salts in the water can't pass through a pore without interacting with the membrane, which will repel them. (Technically, the pores aren't small enough to physically block the ions from passing through, but the interactions between ions and the membrane keep them from getting too close to the pore opening.)

So you need to both layer a thin membrane across your support membrane and control the size of the pores that form within it, typically limiting them to less than 10 nanometers.

There are two methods of creating thin membranes. One involves forming a polymer but keeping it dissolved in a solvent that also mixes with water (often an alcohol of some sort). As you increase the fraction of water present, the polymer will eventually precipitate out. There are several ways of doing this. The simplest is to just heat the solution so that the solvent evaporates, which increases the fraction of water until the polymer precipitates. Alternatively, you can place the solution in a humid environment until the fraction of water goes up.

The most common method, however, is to create a viscous, 20 percent polymer solution and dunk it directly in water. The solution is so viscous that it won't mix into the water; instead, water infiltrates it and causes the polymer to drop out of solution. This process is often done on a continuous roll of material that's sent through a vat of water.

In all these instances, the action takes place at the interface between the polymer surface and the environment. As a result, the membrane primarily forms at this interface, creating the very thin barrier needed for reverse osmosis. Polymer deeper in the solution tends to form a larger, more open structure, which allows water to flow freely away from the membrane.

An alternative approach that functions in a similar manner is to use a building block for the polymer that dissolves in some solvents and a chemical activator that dissolves in an immiscible one. The two solvents will form two different layers (much like oil and water), and the building block and activator will only meet each other at the interface. As a result, polymerisation only takes place at this interface, resulting in a very thin layer.

How do you put holes in it? To a certain extent, the process takes care of that itself. As water begins to enter a solvent it's not fully compatible with, it will form tiny droplets that are held together by surface tension. The polymer will form around those droplets, leaving small holes behind. The size of these holes is determined by the speed of the process; the quicker it takes place, the smaller the water droplets will be and the smaller the resulting pores. By varying the solutions being used and the speed of the process, it's possible to have fine control over the pore formation process.

There are also additional layers of control possible. It's possible to include molecules that act as "pore generators" in the solutions, which are then removed when the membrane is rinsed later. Wang said most of the polymers GE uses are made of aromatic polyamine—which means a carbon ring that nitrogens are attached to. These chemicals do allow a certain degree of flexibility, in that they can be different sizes (one or more rings) and have slightly different chemical properties. (They're also carcinogenic before they're polymerised, but they're inert afterward. While water purification systems can be said to "contain a carcinogen," they pose absolutely no threat to human health.)

By adjusting the chemistry of the polymer, as well as the process by which it's formed, it's possible to have very fine control over the membrane that ultimately forms. This allows manufacturers to customise membranes for different tasks and to provide the durability that's needed for multiple years of use.

Sidney Loeb (left) with first RO membrane.
First Demonstration Of Reverse Osmosis: In the late 1940s, researchers began examining ways in which pure water could be extracted from salty water. During the Kennedy administration, saline water conversion was a high priority technology goal-"go to the moon and make the desert bloom" was the slogan. Supported by federal and state funding, a number of researchers quickly advanced the science and technology of sea water conversion, but UCLA made a significant breakthrough in 1959 and became the first to demonstrate a practical process known as reverse osmosis (RO).
At that time, Samuel Yuster and two of his students, Sidney Loeb and Srinivasa Sourirajan, produced a functional synthetic RO membrane from cellulose acetate polymer. The new membrane was capable of rejecting salt and passing fresh water at reasonable flow rates and realistic pressures. The membrane was also durable, and could be cast in a variety of geometric configurations. The impact of this discovery has been felt worldwide, ranging from applications in home demineralizers to "rivers of fresh water" in the Middle East and North Africa, where desalination facilities produce trillions of gallons of pure water every day. About 60 percent of the world's desalination capacity is located on the Arabian peninsula.

The process of osmosis through semipermeable membranes was first observed in 1748 by Jean-Antoine Nollet (pictured). For the following 200 years, osmosis was only a phenomenon observed in the laboratory. In 1949, the University of California at Los Angeles first investigated desalination of seawater using semipermeable membranes. Researchers from both University of California at Los Angeles and the University of Florida successfully produced fresh water from seawater in the mid-1950s, but the flux was too low to be commercially viable until the discovery at University of California at Los Angeles by Sidney Loeb and Srinivasa Sourirajan at the National Research Council of Canada, Ottawa, of techniques for making asymmetric membranes characterised by an effectively thin "skin" layer supported atop a highly porous and much thicker substrate region of the membrane. John Cadotte, of FilmTec Corporation, discovered that membranes with particularly high flux and low salt passage could be made by interfacial polymerisation of m-phenylene diamine and trimesoyl chloride. Cadotte's patent on this process[4] was the subject of litigation and has since expired. Almost all commercial reverse osmosis membrane are now made by this method. By the end of 2001, about 15,200 desalination plants were in operation or in the planning stages worldwide.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Beckenham Window Cleaner Van Stolen As He Works

The van looked like this, with the registration LC57 WCP. Click to enlarge.
Beckenham window cleaner has van stolen as he works: A window cleaner had his van swiped whilst working on a house in Beckenham yesterday. His blue Nissan Primastar, registration number LC57 WCP, was stolen from Worsley Bridge Road in Beckenham, opposite Kent County Cricket Club, at around 11.30 am.

The van belongs to window cleaning company Nandor's and has 'Nandor's - Window Cleaning' written on the side. Owner of the company Nandor Parazos, 36, told News Shopper that one of his employees was cleaning the windows at the back of a property when his hose stopped running.

When the window cleaner went round to check, the van had been stolen and hose disconnected. He said that his employee noticed a man wandering near the van before he went around the back of the property and believes that he could be the thief. If anyone has any information, call police on 101.

Also see:

Contains Brodex System.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Window Cleaning With Custom 3D Printed Tools

“Making our own bespoke cleaning equipment has been the only way to achieve the standards we want.”
UK Company is Cleaning Windows Eight Stories High with Custom 3D Printed Tools: It’s an architectural showpiece, and 25 Churchill Place will be one of the most energy efficient office buildings in London’s Canary Wharf. The towering glass enclosure features elevators capable of storing and reusing their energy elsewhere in the building, and it was designed by architects at Kohn Pederson Fox Associates.

It’s big, and it’s got a whole lot of windows, and those windows need regular cleaning to keep the tenant’s views of the London cityscape pristine. Spectrum Window Cleaning is helping out.  They claim to be the first commercial window cleaners to invest in their own 3D printer for the purpose of creating new tools for the cleaning process.

Spectrum managing director Lucian Ivan says the investment was a necessary progression. “The crew here love a challenge, and after the recent success on the final cleaning of 25 Churchill Place at Canary Wharf, we’ve been attracting consistently bigger, bolder and more demanding proposals,” Ivan said.

So why a 3D printer? Ivan says it comes down to keeping up with changes in the high-flying industry. “The team are constantly devising solutions to increasingly difficult access issues; the problem it seems is that the current cleaning industry is often quite literally unequipped to deal with the flow of ideas,” Ivan says. “Making our own bespoke cleaning equipment has been the only way to achieve the standards we want.”

Spectrum says that as a result of the initiative, several of the company’s London clients are seeing results which once required the use of scaffolding or ‘cherry pickers’ to access. Ivan said existing commercial cleaning equipment just won’t cope with the angles and glass design features which were included in many new building sites in the capital.

That’s where Spectrum brought their own bespoke tools to bear, and the tools were engineered from conception to completion in-house. The tools have been so effective, in fact, that Spectrum says they’ll soon market their own line of 3D printed commercial cleaning equipment.


“Some of our designs were so effective we were fielding inquiries from the off,” Ivan adds. “The need is out there, so production seems a natural step. We are looking at a completely new method for cleaning windows. It’s uncharted territory, but the power 3D printing gives us is the possibility to achieve it.”


Although the company says they’re currently in discussion with manufacturers for the “reach pole system” they’ve developed, the details of the product design is still “top secret.”

These “reach and wash systems” can access windows up to 92 feet high, and Spectrum says they have approved contractor status for the process. The method requires 100% purified water which undergoes a filtration process known as reverse osmosis. Purified water is pumped through carbon fiber, telescopic poles.

Companies are re-thinking the way they do business to keep up with changing markets, and part of that process often involves using 3D printing to prototype and build new tools. 

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